It's said that Satan is a very smart creature.

Satan, and 1/3 of the other angels, chose what seems to be a very foolish fate. Knowing that God is all-powerful, we ask, what could have compelled Satan - presumably a rational, intelligent being - to choose what would clearly be, a terrible end for him? Did he not know that God would win and that he would be punished forever? And what would be so compelling to the heavenly host, that a third of them would choose 'to reign in hell, rather than serve in heaven?'

  • Maybe it's not fair to ask a question no one can answer it. Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 21:34
  • Hey Chris's sister, Welcome to Christianity.SE. I noticed you tried to remove the content of this question. If you'd really like, we can delete this question for you (not just the question body but the whole thing). However, if you'd like, we might be able to help you edit it to be an answerable question. I think Christianity actually has a pretty clear answer to this question. If you'd like to try that please comment here and we'll help you edit it. For the moment, I've closed it pending some direction. If you prefer, we can delete...
    – Caleb
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 21:44
  • @Caleb: Hi. Then we can let the question open. I don't see what we should change in the question. Everything seems very clear for me. Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 21:51
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    Real quick - usually the answer is pride. Milton portrays Satan as famously saying, "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.". Of course, a) this is Milton, not the Bible, and b) in reality, it is better to serve in heaven than to reign in hell. Just ask the Rich Man in Luke 17 Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 1:38
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    A theory that I've heard, though I don't recall where, is that Satan knew perfectly well that he, being a creature, could never be equal to the Creator. Yet he also knew that the Divine Nature could be combined with a created nature in one Person; this is what happened in Jesus Christ. Satan, as the greatest of the angels, felt that his should be the created nature chosen for the hypostatic union with Divinity. So he was furious with God for according the hypostatic union to a mere human nature rather than to Satan. And his fury is, as a result, directed not only at God but also at humans. Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 22:35

4 Answers 4


The answer here is that Satan (as well as other angels) either did not know that God was indeed all-powerful, or what the meaning of all-powerful implies. As a Christian, I have come into many debates about the idea of Omnipotence, and everyone is familiar with the conundrum, 'If God is all powerful and all knowing, how can he be all good?' Satan is obviously familiar with this (in fact, I would not be surprised if he is its inventor.) The implication of this conundrum is that to make sense of God, you need to drop one of those three attributes.

Some Fathers are of the opinion that neither Satan nor the other angels were, prior to this, fixed in virtue and goodness, and thus were in a state where they could either decide to obey God or not. We must not overestimate the knowledge of angels, nor assume that because we now know something (such as the nature of the Trinity) it was always common knowledge of angels. It is clear in the temptation that Satan doesn't realize that the man Christ is God; so Satan repeatedly misunderstands - possibly willfully - who or what God is. To be fair on this one, pretty much no one knew exactly what was going on, even the demons who knew a bit more than the average person, but as Satan evidences, not a whole lot.

Finally, it seems to be agreed upon in all oral tradition that Satan's pride is the cause of all of this; his misunderstanding of God, (or shall we say, his assuming certain things about God) and his decision to rebel. It seems obvious that if you knew what God is you would never rebel (what would the point be?) but all of us know of people who apostatize - essentially deny what they knew before. Therefore to some extent it is immaterial what knowledge Satan had prior to his rebellion; he rejected it. We see an image of this in the man Judas Iscariot, who despite working miracles and being with the Godman, turns on him anyway. The cause in Judas' case seems to be considered Envy, so we also can't discount envy in Satan's rebellion as well, given its similarity.

There is a story told in our tradition that goes as follows.

A certain saint had love for all creatures, even to the point that he prayed for Satan and the demons that they might repent. At the instant that he prayed this, Satan appeared to him and snarled, 'No, it is God who needs to repent!'

In the end, there is always the 'mystery of iniquity' as Paul says - the choice of the naked and inexorable will, even over and against all sense, all truth, all beauty and all goodness.

  • where the pride comes from? Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:21
  • The oral tradition states that Lucifer was the chief of all of the angels, the most beautiful angel, and the greatest and foremost singer of the angelic choir. Therefore one might accuse the 'accuser' of vanity.
    – user304
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:23
  • I wonder why it was necessary that the angels have a chief. And: when God created Lucifer did he know what he was going to be? Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:29
  • Hierarchy is a fact of reality; it is a fundamental and atomic property of existence and it cannot be reduced to anything else. You could say it different ways, i.e, that Satan was the greatest of the angels, the most beautiful, etc, and whether it is by his volition or not is immaterial, God created him knowing what he would be and become, first his greatest servant, and then his chief enemy. But God did not create him for the second.
    – user304
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:34
  • could He created instead a servant that wouldn't make such a mistake? God has infinitely many possibilities. Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:43

Great question! I don't have a definite answer, but the clues from the Bible are that he wanted to be like God. Presumably, this desire drove him to irrational self belief that he could somehow supplant God.

It is possible that the following verses (Isaiah 14:12-15) provide part of the answer:

How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.

But you are brought down to the grave,

to the depths of the pit.

So, as others have said, it is pride, wanting to be like God ("like the Most High").

It's not just Satan that is irrational, of course. Humans were warned by God that they would die if they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17) but they still did it. And they too were tempted to be like God.

My guess is that this is related to human's desire to make a name for themselves, a recurrent them in the Bible.

  • it's not that simple as it seems to be. Thanks for the answer. Commented Oct 4, 2012 at 7:37

I have reseach from other books like the lost paradise.

When God created the angels he already had in mind to create man but angels were created first. God told the angels to bow and serve him no one else that was great until God decided to create man. He called all the the angels together and told the angels to bow and serve man. All 2/3 was willing but Lucifer said no, and he took 1/3 of the angels with him. He figured he could be a better ruler than God.

It took place where God and Lucifer were debating and Lucifer reminded God he told the angels not to bow before anything other than God, now you're telling us to bow before man and serve man.

Lucifer accused God of deceiving him and God banished him from heaven and changed his name to Satan.

This is why Satan goes after us like he does he blames us of kicking him out of heaven so he kick us out of the garden of eden to sin. Satan lost his position in heaven so he made sure man lost his spiritual closest to God and sworn by an oath to destroy mans soul and spirit and take us all to hell to rule us there as god.

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    Welcome to the site! I cleaned up some of the grammar, I hope you don't mind. Could you, perhaps add a link to the source of this teaching? It's new to me. I think it would help improve the answer, as answers here are generally expected to be supported, or at least supportable. For more info, check the FAQ. Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 2:31

It is written that Satan lifted his heart above the throne of God.

Isaiah 14:12-17 New International Version (NIV) 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[a] 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.

Its very difficult to imagine that a being in Lucifer's position could contemplate overcoming God. We can easily conclude, from him doing so, that he did not understand who God was. If he had known, he would not have staged a rebellion, in the hope of overthrowing the Almighty unborn God, would he!

So why did he not understand who God was? He was there with God, they talked together and Lucifer saw something of the glory of God. God must have told him how he created him out of nothing and breathed the breath of life into him. Yes, so why did Satan do what he did? Let me ask a question..Can the creature, you or me, or any creature, understand the eternal nature of God. Can we look back to where there was no beginning, when there was no beginning!..Can any creature see Gods face an live? God cannot show Himself to the creature, in His true form! He is beyond the creatures capacity to understand Him, simply because the creature is created. This is the fundamental difference between the Creator and the creature. The Creator is un-created, the creature created!

A created being cannot contemplate the nature of the un-created.! Our whole experience is of beginnings. For us everything has a beginning, its all we can understand. A seed a tree, a conception a birth. Everything for the creature has a beginning, this is our reality, its all we know and all we can know and understand. Lucifer was and is the evidence of this assertion. A being of his magnitude, in the presence of Almighty God, but he failed to understand who God was! I understand that Satan imagined that God was like him, that God must have been created also.

When we consider the theory of Evolution and the multiplicity of gods in many religions and their theories, particularly the New Age, regarding life, we quickly see a common thread in them all. That thread is the rejection of an eternal singular sovereign God. Positively they assert that there are many gods and also that the whole universe is God. Yes pretty crazy.! I believe that Satan's thoughts were as such. He could not see, that God was unborn, he believed that another god, had created the God that he saw. Therefore it was possible to overcome Him, because he thought God was created. Satan has perpetuated this lie and assimilated his belief into the hearts and minds of men, leading to the multiple religions and in many of those religions, the belief in multiple Gods.

Satan's first sin, was in fact UNBELIEF! Indeed any relationship between the created and the creator, the potter and the clay, must be on a basis of FAITH! As no creature can see Gods face and live,(that is Gods essential self and essence) any relationship with the creator, from a created perspective, must be on the basis of FAITH! We believe that He is, the "I AM"! We cannot understand how GOD is, but we believe. How can we believe when satan could not. Surely he was far superior in intellect to what we are. Surely he felt the breath of God, on his fair face and worshiped at the footstool of Glorious Light and Peace. And we hear a word from a stranger and we believe...Surely this is the gift of God, the supernatural power of God, intervening and overcoming the natural man, with all his bitter, twisted reason and hatred of God.

That we do believe, is certain evidence of the transcendent power of God. For Jesus said, " no man, can come to me, unless the father who sent me, draws him and I will lift him up on the last day" John 6..Here we see the Spirit of God, interacting in the minds of men and drawing them, against their natural will, against their satanic nature of unbelief. Faith is the work and gift of God. Jesus Christ purchased the right for the creature to be, like Him in Him..! The creature was not perfect when he was created because he was not God by nature and could not be so either, on his own merit. Gods plan before he created anything was this, namely to purchase righteousness, even His own righteousness, in order to impute to the creature. the very righteousness of God. Along with righteousness He has also purchased immutability for the creature. The creature, as it was created, was obviously mutable and therefore not perfect. We hear that the Angels that did not fall, were "Elect". Chosen. Yes we ask, why did not all the angels fall if all creatures were born mutable. We must assume that they we preserved by their faith, in the sacrifice of Christ. One might argue that it was free will only. But look what happened with Adam. The whole race fell every single one, *"for there are none righteous, not even one"*Paul Romans. If Lucifer was the head of the angels, how is it that his infection did not spread to all, as all were mutable and very naive, to say the least, as is shown by Satan, believing he could overcome the Alfa and the Omega, The Living God.! We believe, by the very power of God, transforming our dead minds and giving us life, in hope of the glory to come! "For by grace are you saved, through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God".....

Ephesians 2:8-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB) " For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

"We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:69

"For of Him and through Him and to Him, are all things to whom be glory forever Amen" Romans 11:36

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